In the Face of the Bad, Practice the Better

S (Scripture): 2 Corinthians 12:Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.  8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

O (Observation):  Paul was said to have had a physical ailment that kept him from ever being fully healthy, physically.   I’d have to do more research on this, but regardless of the ailment, Paul makes a theological point.

Paul understands his physical ailment, or weakness, to be reminded that he is not whole…not without Christ.  Paul understands that even though he is weak, that simply makes room for Christ to show up and make him whole.  

What does it look like for Christ to make Paul whole?  Jesus’ grace, filling in where Paul is weak. 

A (Application):  When Christians throw around knowledge or Scripture to publicly condemn Christians or non-Christians, I get more than a little irked.   Maybe I get irked because I have a hard time with rebuttals.  I need time to think something through, and to consider all the angles before I respond.  When I respond too hastily, I find that I get too emotional in my responses, or too narrow-minded.   

We can all serve as Jesus did, sharing the Gospel, bringing healing and forgiveness, even bringing new life where there is none.   But when others criticize you for it, don’t feel like you need a rebuttal.   If you are doing something in Christ’s name that is giving life to something or someone else, fear not.  Embrace the apparent weakness, that Jesus’ grace might be sufficient to satisfy you.    

As we take the example of Jesus, we might simply turn from the negative attitudes around us, and do something GOOD in response.  Richard Rohr shares the core values of the Center for Action and Contemplation on their website.  One core principle is this:

“the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better”

As Christians and non-Christians alike try to knock you down when you serve or speak in the name of Jesus…let them…for in your weakness, Jesus’ grace will fill you.  Practice the better. Let this be Jesus’ way of filling you with grace.  

P (Prayer): Lord, keep us filled with your grace, that we might practice the better in the face of the bad.  Amen.  

This Just Isn’t Fair…but We Have Hope

 

 S (Scripture): Job 21:7 Job:  “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, even increase in power? 21:8 Their children are firmly established in their presence, their offspring before their eyes. 21:9 Their houses are safe and without fear; and no rod of punishment from God is upon them…21:17 How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished? How often does their misfortune come upon them? How often does God apportion pain to them in his anger?”

O (Observation):  The argument from Job’s friends is that Job MUST HAVE done something wrong…something deserving of punishment.   That is their explanation for the “punishment” he is experiencing. 

Job applies their logic to those in the world that are openly evil, and yet prosper.   Job wonders, if his friends are correct, why good things can happen to bad people. 

A (Application):  Perhaps asking questions like Job’s questions are simply part of the mystery of the world…something beyond our understanding.   If that’s the case, I can go on wondering about other things.  Instead of trying to figure it all out, I can focus on these 2 important questions:

  1. What is God saying to me? And,
  2. What would God have me do about it?

These 2 questions help me discern my next step.   And these questions are best discerned in community, where we can share Scripture-based insights, and not just use pop-psychology to answer question #1 above.  

What issues are you wrestling with today?  Try using these questions above to hear a word of grace from God and to take a good next step in response.  

P (Prayer): Lord, speak to us.  Help us when we fail to understand why things happen as they do.  Give us peace by sharing your grace with us today, and giving us hope through the Spirit’s prompting into a good next step. Amen.